FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (HPD) — Prosecutors in Nikolas Cruz’s Florida school massacre case have called for an investigation after a juror said she felt threatened by another juror during deliberations that ended Thursday. with a life sentence against Cruz for the murder of 17 people.
The prosecution’s motion calls for law enforcement to interview the woman after she told the state attorney’s office that she “perceived a threat from another juror in the jury room.” No further details were given. A hearing was set for Friday afternoon.
A divided jury spared Cruz the death penalty and sentenced him to prison for the rest of his life, in a decision that left many relatives of the victims enraged, confused and in tears. Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty a year ago to murdering 14 students and three teachers, and wounding 17 others, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2014.
Under Florida law, a death sentence requires a unanimous vote. The jury of seven men and five women unanimously agreed that there were aggravating factors to warrant a death penalty, such as agreeing that the killings were “especially inhumane, heinous or cruel.”
But one or more jurors found mitigating factors, such as neglected childhood problems. In the end, the jury could not unanimously agree that aggravating factors outweighed mitigating factors, so Cruz receives life in prison without parole. Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally issue the sentence on November 1. Family members, along with injured students and teachers, will have an opportunity to speak.
Jury foreman Benjamin Thomas told reporters that three jurors voted for life in prison in the final vote.